How much testing is enough for software that can condemn a man to death? Traceability in an Agile Federal Government Agency Context

Using tools like TDD and ATDD, Agile provides the means to be confident that your brand new software is well tested-- even for life critical situations such as criminal justice software.  But hold on a minute!  It is a rare mission critical system that is built completely from scratch.  There are always legacy components your team didn't build or doesn't control.  Maybe the previous contractor built it-- but now they are gone and it is your problem.  How can you be certain that everything functions properly in such a situation?  How much testing is enough?  How can you know whether a system has been tested?  These are the questions that standards such as CMMI and PMBOK seek to answer with traceability.

The debate about traceability has been raging for a long time, with passionate advocates on both sides of the argument.   Projects following traditional waterfall methods, and projects that conform to PMBOK or CMMI standards often create and maintain a requirements traceability matrix, or RTM, a document that traces “shall” requirements to functional capabilities and testcases.  Some Agilists argue that the RTM is rarely consulted in practice, so the significant efforts required to maintain such a document are “waste.”  Others point out that agile practices such as TDD provide all the traceability that may be needed. This talk will explore the underlying reasons why traceability may be important and worthwhile in many Federal government contexts, and review exciting new technologies that may provide an “agile answer” to this conundrum.

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

  1. What is traceability?
  2. What does a traditional RTM look like?
  3. What are the underlying concerns for maintaining an RTM?  How many of them still apply, even in an Agile setting?   What about a Federal government context?
  4. Explore Agile tools that may be used to maintain traceability
    1. BDD tools such as SpecFlow
    2. Living documentation
  5. What about legacy code?
  6. Explore Hybrid strategies
  7. Demo and workshop
    1. SpecFlow
    2. Pickles
  8. Planning your adoption strategy: what is a realistic roadmap?
  9. Closing thoughts

Learning Outcome

  1. Understand the underlying reasons why traceability has traditionally been seen as an important goal
  2. Identify a set of evaluation criteria to help determine when traceability concerns are cost or risk justified on a given program and when they may not be
  3. Learn and explore agile techniques for maintaining traceability that minimize cost and maximize effectiveness

Target Audience

Federal managers, project managers, contract officers, vendor managers, technical leaders, QA practitioners, software engineers

schedule Submitted 3 years ago

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